TAYLOR Mel

TAYLOR Mel

Mel Taylor                                     Mel Taylor playing for a Kitchener fund raiser at Station Hotel, circa 1990’s

“ The highlight of my summers as a kid used to be the week or so each year I would spend at my cousin Rick’s house in Fergus Ontario. …, summer meant  comics and comics meant drawing around the dining room table. Armed with our yellow HB pencils we would spend hours filling pads of typing paper with  pictures of monsters, flying saucers, civil war battles and meticulous copies of the latest Kirby and Ditko drawings culled from the Fantastic Four, Spiderman and Thor. … Over the years it seemed life took us in new directions that put our passion for comics on the back burner. But years later we collaborated again, … It intrigues me how much we change within ourselves. The beauty of our collaboration is that Rick and I are ultimately those same kids drawing and dreaming around the dining room table.”                                          From My Life in Comics. Writ., Mel Taylor. No date.

Mel was a freelance writer whose work has appeared in newspapers, textual and graphic magazines. He performed on stage both as an actor and singer and been involved in many other aspects of theatre.

He was born 17 May 1954 in Acton ,Ontario but grew up just outside Brampton before moving to Preston (Cambridge). As a child he voraciously read Classics Illustrated a series of comic book versions of the literary classics, plus the work of Stan Lee of Marvel Comics. The former propelled him to search out the original novels, nurtured his love of reading, and induced him to try his hand at two novellas.  The latter started his life long love of cartoon stories.  He and his cousin Rick Taylor who would later become illustrator for Wordsmith, spent much of their summers together working on cartoons on the dining-room table. This partnership eventually led to them partnering on published works.

At Preston High School he contributed to and edited the Panther, a professionally printed monthly school tabloid. He was involved in school assemblies, playing Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas, reading the Queen’s Christmas message and working on sets, costumes, and make-up for various Gilbert and Sullivan productions. He graduated from high school as a Valedictorian and Ontario Scholar.

He went to Brock University in 1973 to study drama. During these studies, he worked at Shaw Festival as an extra in Caesar and Cleopatra (1975), and a stage technician over the 1975 and 1976 seasons. Still at Brock, he became part of a band called Mirthwood, (1973-1976). The name was a humorous nod to Tolkien’s Mirkwood.  They played the coffee houses in the St. Catherines area, most notably the Owl’s Nest at the university.

After receiving a degree in 1977, he worked as an historical animator at Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake (1977), and a principal tenor for the Fort Erie Gilbert and Sullivan Repertory Theatre (1978). He played “Nickle Jim” in the play of the same name for the Carousel Players, and was a property assistant and sound technician for the play A Day in the Death of Joe Egg at the Press Theatre. Both theatres were in St. Catharines.

In 1978, he tried his hand at graphic design, working as Art Director (design, layout, paste-up) on Young and Free  a magazine for Free World Publishing and Advertising, in St. Catharines, as well as doing other small graphic jobs.

He and his wife Kim moved to Victoria (1979 – 1982). There he became a member of Fooles, a troupe based in that city which provided incidental music and comedy for corporate events.

1982 saw him and his wife back in Kitchener, where he went to work in the K-W Book Store and soon became a regular at Harry Kramer’s Now and Then Books, the go to comic book store in Kitchener at the time.. Of Kremer, Mel has said, “I learned more about the industry from Harry than any other person, and enjoyed his company for years until his untimely death.”    Meanwhile he began playing, on a weekly basis, (1982 to 2006), in Culture Clash, a kitchen jam band of rotating members. He played fundraisers for the Niagara Artist’s Co-op and a Kitchener charities fundraiser, in the 1990’s.

In 1985, Rick Taylor asked Mel for help with a story, “Human Factor’” that Rick was working on. It would later be published in Quadrant issues 1-4, and 1-5. About the same time, Rick partnered with writer Dave Darrigo to create “Wordsmith.” Mel had a connection with this effort. Rick drew his illustrations using a photo-reference method. Mel was the photo-reference model for the “Asa Cohen” character, who appeared in Wordsmith issues 5, 7, and 10.

After “Wordsmith” ended in 1989, Mel and Rick partnered again to create stories for Caliber Presents [1990 & 1991]. Mel began his own mini comic book Bootleg Comics & Stories, which contained some stories illustrated by Rick but principally essays, poems and art by Mel. The first issue appeared in 1993. It continued for six issues, the last appearing in the Summer of 1995. Some of this work appeared in Bootleg Comics & Stories Featuring The Best of the Minis. 

While working with Rick on Caliber Presents stories, Mel studied journalism at Conestoga College (1990 – 1991). He wrote for a number of magazines and newspapers as well as promotions for the City of Waterloo and the local Chamber of Commerce. He then turned his attention to fiction and wrote a novella Angels We Have Heard On High, published in 2001 by et al Publishing. This was followed by another novella Fast Falls The Eventide eventually published in 2015. In addition to these he wrote short stories and poetry, and was a contributing editor for the literary quarterly Post Modern Soup and Crackers.

In 2003 Mel and Rick teamed up again to put out a magazine sized Bootleg Comics and Stories with all new stories. These were later reprinted in Negative Burn. They did more stories which later appeared in Growing Up With Comics. [2008].

Upon turning 65 in 2019, Mel released a series of reprints including Bootleg Yellow, Bootleg Blue and Bootleg Red: The Best of the Minis from Studiocomix Press featuring his favourite stories from Negative Burn and Growing Up With Comics as well as the best of his own mini comic, Bootleg Comics and Stories. A series of facsimile reprints of all of the original minis from the early ’90s is also in preparation.

WORK:

 WRITER:

 BOOK GRAPHIC ANTHOLOGY:

Content story: 

Growing Up With Comics. Desperado Publishing, 2008

“Comic Book Characters Never Grow Old.” Illus. R.G. Taylor: 80-83.                    “In The Days of Heroes.” Illus. R.G. Taylor: 43-54.                                                “Nostalgia Sure Is What It Used To Be.” Illus. R.G. Taylor:. 23-25.

BOOK GRAPHIC COLLECTION:

Content story: 

Bootleg Comics & Stories, “…” Illus., R.G. Taylor. Time Tripper Visual Arts, 2003. Mini comic.
“Jack’s Riff.” Subsequently appeared in Negative Burn, 2-6, Nov. 2006: 19-29

“Table Dance.” Subsequently appeared in Caliber Presents, 1-22, 1991: 1-6, and Negative Burn, 2-5, October 2006: 33-38.

“Would You Like Sour Cream Or Slasa With Your Crow.” Subsequently appeared in Negative Burn, 2-9, Feb.  2007: 1-11.

Bootleg Comics & Stories. Illus., R.G. Taylor. Studio Comix Press, 2019.   Includes “Table Dance”, “Jack’s Riff”, “Would You Like Sour Cream Or  Slasa With Your Crow” & “I Like To Mingle With Riff Raff.”

BOOK TEXT:

Content:

Memoir:

My Life In Comics. No date. A four page mini book written & published by Mel Taylor on the occasion of a “Free Comic Day”. It contained random illustrations by R.G. Taylor of the character “Asa Cohen” from Wordsmith who was based on Mel’s physical features. It also appears in Bootleg Comics and Stories, 1-2, March, 1994. A mini comic.

Novella:

Angels We Have Heard On High. et al Publishing, 2001.

Fast Falls the Eventide. Wordbug Publishing/Chamber Theatre Hintonburg, 2015.

PERIODICAL GRAPHIC ANTHOLOGY:

Content story: 

Bootleg Comics and Stories, (Mini-comics)
1-1, 1993.Includes “Table Dance” & “Dog Days”

1-2, March, 1994. Includes “My Life In Comics”

1-3, June, 1994.

1-4, Sept.,1994.

1-5, Spring, 1995.

1-6, Summer, 1995.

Best of the Minis, 3-1, 2007.

 

Caliber Presents…. Illus., Rick Taylor. Caliber Press, Black & white.
1-17, 1990. “Dog Days”: 9-16. 1-22, 1991 “Table Dance”: 1-6.

 

Negative Burn, …Illus., Rick Taylor.
2-5, October 2006. “Table Dance”: 33-38.

2-6, Nov. 2006. “Jack’s Riff” : 19-29.

2-9, Feb. 2007. “Would You Like Sour Cream Or Slasa With Your Crow”: 1-11.

CO-WRITER:

 PERIODICAL GRAPHIC:

Content story:

Quadrant, 1-4, no date; “The Human Factor.” Co-writ. Rick Taylor. Plot assist Barry King. Illus., Rick Taylor.

PUBLISHER:

BOOK GRAPHIC:

Bootleg Comics & Stories, Time Tripper Visual Arts 2003.

Bootleg Comics & Stories. Studio Comix Press, 2019.

PERIODICAL GRAPHIC (mini)

Bootleg Comics and Stories, (Mini-comics)
1-1, 1993.

1-2, March, 1994.

1-3, June, 1994.

1-4, Sept.,1994.

1-5, Spring, 1995.

1-6, Summer, 1995.

Best of the Minis, 3-1, 2007.

SOURCE:

 Article periodical:

Bootleg Comics and Stories, 1-2, March, 1994: “My Life In Comics.”

Article newspaper:

The Record [Kitchener] 8 Nov. 2003:. “Fusing life, word, image.” Writ., C. Hunter: A1+.

The Record [Kitchener] 13 Dec. 2005: “Passing the buck with joy”: Writ., Colin Hunter

The Waterloo Chronicle 17 March 2016: “I will still be here.” Writ., Marshall Ward.

Correspondence:

Mel Taylor to Robert MacMillan